Wool has a range of unique properties that no artificial fibre has been able to replicate - natural, renewable, biodegradable, durable, breathable, fire resistant, thermal insulating, shock absorbing, sound insulating, dirt and moisture repellent, stain resistant, anti-static, odour resistant, UV resistant, hypoallergenic and many more.
Just one example of its incredible properties is its relationship with water. Due to its structure, wool manages to be both water repellent and water absorbent at the same time! The outside of each wool fibre has a waxy coating which repels water (hydrophobic) at the surface, encouraging water to simply run off. The fibre's core however attracts and retains water (hydrophilic). This allows wool to absorb and release moisture into the atmosphere without compromising its thermal efficiency. Wool can contain 30% of water before even feeling wet. Due to its high water and nitrogen content wool is naturally fire resistant.
No man-made material has ever come close to what wool does naturally.
What is felt?
Many people think of wool felt as just any normal kind of cloth, but felt is very different. Woven or knitted fabrics are made from fibres that first have been spun into thread or yarn, while proper traditional felt, like we make at unspun®, is made straight from loose fibres. All wool, and most animal fibres, can be used for felt and how it is made is very close to magic...
When finished, felt becomes a strong and resilient fabric which doesn’t fray, meaning edges can be left as cut. It is equally strong in all directions and very light in relation to its tensile strength.
How is felt made?
Each wool fibre is protected by a tough exterior of overlapping scales, called cuticle cells. The exposed edges of these cells are jagged and point towards the tip of the fibre. When exposed to heat the scales open up and slip over one another in one direction but, like hooks, can only move in on direction, preventing them from moving back. This is what gives wool the ability to felt.
Moisture, heat, pressure and movement all contribute to the felting process. Depending on the type of wool and processing methods, felt can be made soft; trapping air to provide maximum warmth and insulation, it can be hard; as solid as wood for extreme strength and durability – and anywhere in between. Traditionally it was used for interior insulation, industrial products, and clothing/footwear, but today felt is used in a great variety of interior design and fashion products. Felt is particularly suitable for anything which benefits from heat/cold-, shock- or sound insulation.
Add the colours and textures of different natural fibres of unspun® to the mix and you get a whole new dimension to the use of felt in product and interior design!
Felt is a perfect material for anything which requires:
- insulation from both hot and cold temperatures
- acoustic insulation, wherever sound reverberations and echo is a problem
- shock absorption for anything which needs protection